In an effort to raise awareness I have tried to find the most pertinent information from what I consider to be reliable sources. Education, although sad, is empowerment and people must be aware of what's going on in the world, especially when something causes so much harm that can be avoided.
Palm oil, one of the cheapest and most popular oils, also commonly referred to as palm kernel oil, palm fruit oil, and dozens of other names, is found in about half of all packaged goods, if not more. Palm oil can be also listed as PKO, palmate, sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphates, glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, chemicals which contain palm oil, and others, so it really can be difficult to know if this ingredient is in any of the foods you're eating or any of the products you're using. It can even be listed under the blanket term: vegetable oil.
Many shampoos, lipsticks and other make-ups, candy bars and other snacks, and even crackers and other food and cosmetic products often contain palm oil. Even beloved vegan products such as Daiya cheese uses palm oil in their block cheeses (not the shredded cheeses to my knowledge), Lucy's vegan cookies, and delicious vegan candy bars such as Jokerz, among others.
According to Greenpeace: "Demand from emerging economies such as India and China as well as a growing reliance on biofuels in Europe and elsewhere means global production is only set to grow... The environmental damage that can be caused when expansion of industrial production continues unchecked and the undeniable link between palm oil and deforestation can be witnessed via the destroyed peatlands and rainforests in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer."
Many different animals have adapted to the specific environment from which palm oil derives, and reducing the forests and destroying the land from production is causing many species to dwindle rapidly, soon to be on the brink of extinction. The UK-based news publication The Independent claims "The wildlife-rich forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are being chain-sawed to make way for palm-oil plantations. Thirty square miles are felled daily in a burst of habitat destruction that is taking place on a scale and speed almost unimaginable in the West... When the rainforests disappear almost all of the wildlife – including the orangutans, tigers, sun bears, bearded pigs and other endangered species – and indigenous people go. In their place come palm-oil plantations stretching for mile after mile, producing cheap oil."
Please be aware of the devastation palm oil causes and be compassionate enough to check your food and product labels. Do your own research and let everyone know about this. I was unaware of this for so long, and, sadly, I'm sure many others are as well. I have stopped buying products that contain palm oil as much as possible (by this I mean I read all ingredients and if I think it contains palm oil I do not purchase it, but with all the many ways it can be listed, it can be difficult to know I am avoiding it 100%) and will continue to boycott them. Please do the same.
Also, if you choose to become more active concerning this problem, please voice your opinion by calling companies to let them know you are against the use of palm oil and will not be using their products until they stop using it as an ingredient. Spread the word!